Brian Hapundu sat hunched over as he listened to ECZ director Priscilla Isaac on the morning of Friday 12th August 2016 at the Mulungushi international conference centre (MICC). He was clearly shell shocked. His body language said it all. So did the body language of his secretary general Davies Chama who sat next to him. It was clear these two PF officials knew something that many people in the nation did not.
Earlier around mid night of the polling day, 11th August 2016, results from a few polling stations from across the country showed that the UPND presidential ticket was headed for a comfortable win. The ticket led by huge margins in the Southwest while significantly eroding the PF margins elsewhere including the heavily populated provinces of Lusaka and Copperbelt. In Lusaka’s Kanyama constituency the PF only won by 2000 for example.
By close of Friday going into Saturday, PVT was trending towards 100 constituencies and Hakainde Hichilema was leading President Lungu by at least 250,000 votes. The gap looked insurmountable.
PF members could be over heard acknowledging that Hichilema had clearly won and little could be done about it. Some vowed that they could make it impossible for him and UPND to govern just as ‘he and his party did for the PF’.
At that point, files in government offices went down the shredders. Some branded vehicles had their coatings hastily and crudely removed and PF regalia disappeared from off the streets.
On Saturday 12th August, a delegation of international and local ‘elders’ called on President Lungu and told him what he already knew, that he lost the election. The message was all too clear ‘he had to step down’. He accepted.
No sooner than the ‘elders’ left state lodge, another group called on the beleaguered President Lungu. It comprised a former Zambian president, a Zambian diplomat and a statehouse aide. They pleaded with Lungu not to be too quick in stepping down as they could ‘do something about it’.
Then the movie started and Kaizer Zulu took centre stage.
Emmanuel Mwamba was detailed to start rolling out propaganda stating that the PF was headed for victory based on some ‘exit polls’ something which is alien to Zambian elections. They also circulated a list of constituencies, as early as Friday morning, which they claimed PF had won. The list included Kafue, Chilanga, Nalolo, Zambezi west and Ikelenge all of which would be finally won by the UPND, Except Nalolo which was won by an indecpendent candidate but at presidential level HH beat Lungu by 98 %. But it was all part of the propaganda to psychic the public to a PF victory.
Secondly PF national campaign chair, Kelvin Bwalya Fube (KBF) was asked to immediately issue a statement warning PF members and the public at large ‘that the UPND intended to rigg the election through temperng with ballot boxes’. This was a decoy to distract attention from PF activities and cause the UPND to drop their guard through excitement. The recording went viral immediately.
On Friday Kaizer instructed the ECZ not to announce any results. The ECZ obliged and announced only a few constituencies. They blamed the slow results on ‘the huge voter turn-out’. This was despite the fact that many constituencies were ready by then. But Kaizer needed more time to conjure an EL victory.
On Friday and Saturday, with the few constituencies announced, Hichilema was in the lead. But this was to change going into Sunday and Monday. ECZ were told only to announce results when the results showed that Lungu was leading. This again was to psychic the public. Had results been announced as received, Hichilema would have led most of the time.
Then Kaizer and his boys then went to work on the ground. They targeted the two biggest provinces, Lusaka and Copperbelt.
They caused massive confusion in some polling and totalling centres. At Olympia and Kamwala basic schools, PF cadres moved in, kicked out Opposition agents and literally took over the show. This confusion meant that results in Lusaka urban constituencies, only a few minutes from MICC, could only be known fully on Monday 14th August.
Kaizer was the ‘starring’ of the movie! If he was not at City airport receiving results from God knows where, he was commanding PF cadres to ‘kill UPND supporters’ who tried to stop his activities. In the evenings he would be seen, sitting at the PF table at MICC, looking Judge Chulu straight and hard in the eyes. Quite daring for a civil servant it must be said.
In Ndola and Kitwe they managed to inflate the margin by at least 100,000. But the result was that the results in a few constituencies in the two towns were completely out of trend with the rest of the Copperbelt.
In Lusaka they had a field day. In Kanyama they tried to knock-off 14,000 from HH’s votes but alert UPND officials deterred this move. They succeded in Matero, Mandevu and Munali were they created a gap of at least 80,000 between EL and HH. In Matero, initial results showed that EL got about 38,000. This was later changed to 57,000. This meant that Mandevu, Munali & Matero were out of trend with Kanyama, Lusaka central and Kabwata which had much narrower margins, within the same town.
And the final picture was that Edgar Lungu had by far out performed his own MPs. For example in Munali Nkandu Luo got 27,000 against Lungu’s 52,000. In Mandevu Jean Kapata got 29,000 while Lungu was given 57,000.
It was not only in Lusaka. In Katuba Hichilema was given about 16,000 and out performed by his MP candidate Patricia Mwashingwele by some 7,000 votes.
Why the huge gaps between Presidential and MP candidates? Only Kaizer Zulu will ever know the answer.
ECZ then chipped in. To make the EL eminent victory handsome, they did a little magic of their own through mis announcing results. In Lundazi they gave Lungu 8,000 more than the total votes cast. In Kanyama they under announced Hichilema’s results by 2,000. In Chingola, Lungu got 1,500 free votes and so the pattern went over a few constituencies.
It was a crude job as Mmembe would put it. By the end of it all, the election landscape was littered with pre-marked ballots falling out of handbags or laying outside ZAF HQ buildings. Missing forms Gens 12 & 19 were the order of the day. And a heap of ‘spoilt’ ballots numbering more than 85,000 made it into number 3, beating Edith Nawakwi comfortably.
On the final day of announcing results at MICC, Davies Chama had a bottle of red wine by his side. When a smiling Judge Esau Chulu declared Edgar Chagwa Lungu the winner of the election and consequently duly elected, Chama poured himself another glass and took a long hard swig, ‘ichiloshi’.
‘Its a victory for God’, Chama declared in an interview later.